Meet the healthtech startup that has done 1 million free consultations in Tier-II and III India
As India fights the war against the coronavirus pandemic, startups and corporates alike have come together to offer innovative solutions, tweak their business models to serve the current needs, and more.
Among them is Delhi-based healthtech startup myUpchar, which has a medicine delivery vertical as well. It will donate all the profits generated during the lockdown – from March 24 to April 14 – from this medicine ecommerce vertical to the PM CARES Fund.
“Any profit we make from the sale of medicines during this time will be donated to the fight against the coronavirus,” Rajat Garg, Co-founder and CEO of myUpchar tells YourStory.
The PM Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund was announced as a national fund to deal with emergencies and distress situations, like the current pandemic.
Fighting the coronavirus pandemic
To create awareness and facilitate accessibility in Tier-II and III areas, myUpchar has been releasing videos and articles containing sharing medically verified information about the novel coronavirus regularly.
As essential services, the startup has been continuing its medicine delivery service across the country, as well as providing teleconsultations with specialists, and enabling home sample collection facilities across 30 cities of India.
myUpchar has also tied up with a licensed manufacturer to make PPE equipment available to medical staff across the country. These kits will be geared towards smaller clinics and nursing homes that do not have an assured supply.
“We know that we will need to pool all our healthcare resources to fight this pandemic – our doctors, nurses, medical staff are our biggest resources at this time. We see it as a priority to shore up their defences: our doctors need to be safe to keep us safe,” Rajat says.
The startup is also making infrared thermometers, N-95 respirator masks, and hospital-grade hand sanitiser (alcohol rub) available through its ecommerce platform.
Story so far
myUpchar was founded in 2016 by Stanford University alumni and friends Rajat Garg and Manuj Garg, who wanted to solve the lack of access to quality healthcare in Tier-II and III areas of India.
While the total per capita government expenditure on healthcare has nearly doubled from Rs 1,008 per person in FY2015 to Rs 1,944 in FY2020, most of these facilities continue to be limited to metros and Tier I cities. In the last few years, many healthtech startups have been working tirelessly to bring quality healthcare to rural India. However, one factor is still being overlooked – educating people about healthcare trends in these areas.
This is where myUpchar comes in. To make sure that medical information reaches people beyond the metros and Tier-I cities, the startup produces authentic videos and articles in regional languages.
“Our content is available in six languages - Hindi, English, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu,” says Rajat.
myUpchar provides content on sexual health, yoga and fitness, women’s health, Ayurveda, pregnancy, child care, homoeopathy, and therapy, among others. The startup has been working with 50 doctors who produce the content for the website.
It also provides free consultations, sells medicines, and allows patients to book lab tests on its platform. At present, around 50,000 doctors are registered on the platform through the myUpchar Doctor app to connect with patients.
The startup has also partnered with 10,000 pharmacies, and delivers medicines online or via its network chemist partners. It has on-boarded 10 pathology labs to enable lab test bookings. myUpchar delivers products in almost every Tier II and III cities, and facilitates home sample collection in 30 cities.
Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, myUpchar is “also planning to launch a COVID-19 screening test to identify the potential cases,” says the co-founder.
Model and growing numbers
myUpchar’s delivers medicine to both B2B clients and B2C customers. Its revenue model is a mix of subscriptions and margins on medicine and lab tests. At present, it offers real-time doctor consultations for free.
Starting with only 10 team members, myUpchar has scaled its team to 200 employees today.
While scaling, the startup’s biggest challenge has been reaching out to its target audience – people in Tier II and III areas – and getting them to trust the platform with their healthcare needs.
“We worked consistently on building the trust. Now, we see them relying on our free consultation services by quality doctors, consuming our content, and placing orders,” Rajat says.
While the co-founder did not reveal exact numbers, he says that myUpchar has grown its revenue to several million dollars in the last three years. The startup is targeting to increase this number by 10x.
The platform records 150 million views per month across its website and video channels. myUpchar claims that it has conducted one million free consultations for its Tier-II and III users.
The startup has raised $5 million in Series A round from Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network, and Shunwei Capital. It also raised $350,000 in its angel round from Rajan Anandan, Alok Mittal, Mohit Satyanand, and investors from LetsVenture platform.
Market and future plans
According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian healthcare market is expected to reach $372 billion by 2020. Startups like Practo, Portea, MedGenome, Redcliffe Life Sciences, and Lybrate have made a mark in the industry.
However, Rajat says that what sets myUpchar apart is,
“While most companies focus on the top five cities, myUpchar’s goal is to serve the Tier II and III cities.”
Going forward, myUpchar plans to scale its teleconsultations as well as its capacity to serve large number of medicine orders and lab tests. “We also plan to build a full-stack network across the country to fulfil our vision to provide affordable healthcare to everyone,” Rajat says.
Speaking on the current economic slowdown and funding needs, he adds, “myUpchar has enough cash reserves to last for another 18 months.”
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta